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Discussion Starter #1
My girlfriend is a graphic design major graduating this coming semester. She needs an inexpensive design laptop to be able to carry around and work on things, naturally she wants to be able to show work to clients.

What I really need to know is from a hardware perspective what's most important for graphic designers? Keep in mind we're really trying to hit a $1000 dollar maximum.

Also keep in mind she has a decent desktop at home so this would not be her only way to work.

Here are my assumptions so far in order of importance IMO:

Ram and Hard drive space seem to be the biggest factor, since she'll be working with high resolution/file size images. What's a good amount of ram for this sort of work? 4gigs would seem like requirement to me. Would a 320gHD be good?

A quad core cpu would appear to be preferable as programs such as Photoshop can make use of the extra cores. Would it be better to jump on an older generation Core2Quad if only i3 & i5 cpus are in her price range?

Screen size & resolution. Something 15" or larger.

A dedicated video card
, preferably Nvidia would be needed for the large amount of image processing she does, and she will dabble in Maya from time to time. Are the 3xx line gpus at least *decent* ?

Any thoughts on my assumptions would be appreciated and any advice, especially from practicing graphic artists would be really helpful!
 

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Out of curiousity; why only Nvidia GPUs? The ATI 5650 found in many mid budget (600-800$) along with a core i5 are excellent. My wife has that combo and it works excellent. She does graphic intensive powerpoint presentations (she is a professor) and I have gamed a bit on it (just to check it out, lol).

Edit: Congratulations to your girlfiend by the way.
 

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I would say for Photoshop and working with many/large images you would want to be looking at 6-8gb+ of ram if possible.

For hdd, I think most laptops are coming with 500gb at least, which should be alright, or possible to upgrade if needed. Depends if she will be storing a lot of her work on the laptop or not.

Dual or quad cpu should work, more preference should be given to ram capacity than for a quad core IMO.

I'm not sure which version of CS she uses, the later versions 3+? can also use the gpu to render images, but it was nvidia only, and I'm not sure if laptops integrated gpu's worked with that or not.
 

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The moble core i3s and i5s also support hyper threading, you are correct champyg
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pancing View Post
THIS
I almost bought that one, it does indeed fit the bill exactly. There is also one for 950.00 with a slightly slower CPU (the core i7 720) and smaller harddrive. It looks to be an excellent deal. But the op did say Nvidia only, which I am still curious about.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Quote:


Originally Posted by PropNut
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I almost bought that one, it does indeed fit the bill exactly. There is also one for 950.00 with a slightly slower CPU (the core i7 720) and smaller harddrive. It looks to be an excellent deal. But the op did say Nvidia only, which I am still curious about.

Well, I'm sure I'll be given a little grief over this statement, but I was just worried about driver issues. A friend of mine owned a Lenovo laptop which sported a Radeon card and he had some sort of conflict between it and Photoshop. Additionally I had encountered an issue with Maya's realtime render engine "viewport 2.0" on high end radeon tech at my school.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Quote:


Originally Posted by pancing
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THIS

That does indeed look like a great deal. Many thanks for finding it. Still not totally sure about AMD though. I will seriously consider that one though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Quote:

Originally Posted by champyg View Post
Actually, if i3 or i5 falls in your price range, that will do you fine too as all dual core i3s and i5s support hyperthreading.
I forgot about the hyper-threading, good point!

Love the avatar by the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Quote:

Originally Posted by Faster_is_better View Post

I'm not sure which version of CS she uses, the later versions 3+? can also use the gpu to render images, but it was nvidia only, and I'm not sure if laptops integrated gpu's worked with that or not.
I don't believe this is still the case, Adobe has links for both Nvidia & AMD drivers on their CS4/5 page.

Linky:
http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/404/kb404898.html
 

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You should see what i am photoshoping on. I do it on a five year old dell inspiron E1505. 504MB of RAM, an intel T2300 @ 1.66GHz, 30gb 5400RPM Harddrive and Windows XP Media Center Edition. Photoshopping is surprisingly not awful. I should upgrade it pretty soon. The only reason why I have it is because I can't afford to buy photoshop again
. Can't wait to max it out on a total of 2gb of RAM and maybe an SSD depending on how much it helps. Oh, and I need to buy a battery because when I unplug it, the light turns red and it lasts for about 30 minutes. lol
 

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Originally Posted by SalisburySteak View Post
You should see what i am photoshoping on. I do it on a five year old dell inspiron E1505. 504MB of RAM, an intel T2300 @ 1.66GHz, 30gb 5400RPM Harddrive and Windows XP Media Center Edition. Photoshopping is surprisingly not awful. I should upgrade it pretty soon. The only reason why I have it is because I can't afford to buy photoshop again
. Can't wait to max it out on a total of 2gb of RAM and maybe an SSD depending on how much it helps. Oh, and I need to buy a battery because when I unplug it, the light turns red and it lasts for about 30 minutes. lol
lol
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by [\\/]Paris View Post
Well, I'm sure I'll be given a little grief over this statement, but I was just worried about driver issues. A friend of mine owned a Lenovo laptop which sported a Radeon card and he had some sort of conflict between it and Photoshop. Additionally I had encountered an issue with Maya's realtime render engine "viewport 2.0" on high end radeon tech at my school.
Not at all, those are valid worries. I know the early ATI/5000 series drivers had issues but they are, as far as I know, taken care of in the last several updates. I also use Photoshop (although I am not a power user) and have had no issues what so ever. If you can let me know where the issue was exactly I will try to replicate it for you and test it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Quote:

Originally Posted by PropNut View Post
Not at all, those are valid worries. I know the early ATI/5000 series drivers had issues but they are, as far as I know, taken care of in the last several updates. I also use Photoshop (although I am not a power user) and have had no issues what so ever. If you can let me know where the issue was exactly I will try to replicate it for you and test it out.
The issue he had involved the entire screen glitching out when he booted up Photoshop and split into hundreds of random vertical lines of black and white, from what I recall, though I need to speak with him again to get the details.

The issue with Maya 2011 was on our new school lab systems. I believe they use 5870's but can't confirm just yet. When trying to use Maya's new realtime render mode in the viewport, called viewport 2.0, it said something to the effect of "Unable to initialize due to unsupported hardware."

This one I can replicate on Friday and get back to you on.
 

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I am using three different ATI 5000 series cards; a 5850 on my desktop, a 5650 in my wife's laptop, and a 5870 in my laptop. None of them are having trouble loading and using PS (CS4).

I do not have Maya 2011 so I cannot try to replicate that issue.

After reading many threads relating to MAYA and ATI cards I find that almost all negitive comments are from people who do not use ATI cards, or they are "I had a buddy that had an ATI and they are crap", etc. There are several comments that a driver update fixed the issues. Problems were more prevalent when changing from an Nvidia card to an ATI card. Driver sweeper seems to have helped there.
 
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Discussion Starter #19
Quote:

Originally Posted by PropNut View Post
I am using three different ATI 5000 series cards; a 5850 on my desktop, a 5650 in my wife's laptop, and a 5870 in my laptop. None of them are having trouble loading and using PS (CS4).

I do not have Maya 2011 so I cannot try to replicate that issue.

After reading many threads relating to MAYA and ATI cards I find that almost all negitive comments are from people who do not use ATI cards, or they are "I had a buddy that had an ATI and they are crap", etc. There are several comments that a driver update fixed the issues. Problems were more prevalent when changing from an Nvidia card to an ATI card. Driver sweeper seems to have helped there.
Alright thanks for all the research Prop, I appreciate it. Naturally I understand there's an unfair amount of bias leveraged against AMD at times. I'm going to test the machine that was having issues with Maya again on Friday and write down the specific error msg it had, if it'll do the glitch again. I'll put my results on here.

Thanks again.
 
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